In Utah, the superstar is the team!
When you don’t have a “go-to-guy” or a superstar in the team, survival depends solely on the collective. Donovan Mitchell gone, the Jazz no longer have this player capable of taking the game on his own in hot moments, and it is through his passing game and the sharing of the ball that Utah has been doing so since the start of the season. . New proof last night in the victory snatched against the Grizzlies. This is the 5th in 7 matches!
“When I look at our squad, I see some good players who can do a variety of things” explains Will Hardy. « But when I look at him, I don’t see a ton of players who I think are great one-on-one players in isolation. But that’s not what makes them great players. »
Clarkson as creator
There are still some, starting with Jordan Clarkson, author of 21 points. The former NBA’s best sixth man has taken Mitchell’s place in the starting lineup, and he’s not afraid to go one-on-one in isolation. But he’s also not afraid to play point guard when Mike Conley isn’t around, like tonight. He did not score a point in the last five minutes, and yet Utah won.
“Every time I came off the bench in recent seasons, I just needed to arm. I was just shooting. But today, I’m in a position where I have to create play. » explains Clarkson, author of 6 passes this night. A metamorphosis that his coach did not cause. « I’m not begging him to create. I told him that if the game requires him to take 10 shots in a row, he can take them. But I think he has more to offer us in attack, and we saw some important assists late in the game from him. »
Like Clarkson, all Jazz players want to make passes. This night, the five holders end up with four assists and more. Another stat: the last 23 points of the Jazz are scored on assists. It’s day and night compared to previous seasons. Result, it is Kelly Olynyk and Malik Beasley who make the difference in the « money time ».
Efficiency in chaos
« Up front, they have to defend in several different situations, different players with different variants, and it’s difficult… » emphasizes Olynyk. “When you go from a simple screen to a pick-and-roll situation, everyone can kind of overload and get to their favorite spots. It’s hard to hold on to that and not give in to something else. So it’s a tribute to Will (Hardy) and everything he instills in this band. And it’s fun to play. »
Clearly, the players adhere perfectly to the message of their young coach. It is by sharing the ball and making common sacrifices in defense that we take pleasure in playing. And that’s how we manage to be the surprise team at the start of the season with five wins for two losses.
« We don’t really have players capable of doing all the actions » recalls Olynyk. “So when it gets chaotic, when we move the ball around and move the players, it disrupts the defense, and that’s probably when we’re at our best. »